“Let me tell you why you’re here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain, but you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world.
You don’t know what it is, but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me.”
“The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us. Even now, in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work… when you go to church… when you pay your taxes…“I’m trying to free your mind, Neo. But I can only show you the door. You’re the one that has to walk through it. You have to let it all go. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind. ”
- Morpheus to Neo in The Matrix
My life was changed the day that I saw the Matrix.
At that time in my life, to be honest, it was much more about the concept of freedom and living outside the tyranny of whatever oppressed. The new special effects, over the top acting and pithy one-liners all made the movie for me.
The last few years another, the more precise and obvious meaning is coming to the surface from The Matrix. Life, real life is only found when you are disconnected from technology. When you are still plugged into the mainframe, then you are living a skewed and false existence. I am more and more convinced for the need to get to wake up in the real world and see the world for what it truly is and what it was truly meant to be.
With that said, before we go any further, we need to have a heart to heart and get really clear about a few things.
If you are going to participate in these practices that help you to hear and embrace the words/seeds of God, then we have to turn off or get away from our technology.
There is no way around this. To pray, to listen, to give, act, gather, connect and journey, you have to be present.
Technology hinders us from being present.
Wendell Berry says it well in his poem “How to be a poet.”
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Live a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Screens and other technology has a way of obscuring the place - the place you are called to be present. When we are placing ourselves before the Creator so that He can tend to the seeds He has entrusted to the fallow ground of our hearts, technology desecrates that space.
For me a few ways that this has taken shape for me:
1. The phone is in another place when I am participating in the 7 practices. If I am praying or reading, it is not near me. If I am connecting around the table or gathering with others - my phone is not being checked and monitored. You can make connections with each of the practices.
2. My computer is not near me when I am participating in the practices. I am not checking email, or Social Media while I read or pray. I do not attempt to multi-task. The practices and the people that are nearby are the priority.
3. Of the practices, most are with people, some are primarily done alone. But understand that technology gets in the way of connecting with others. It gets in the form of connecting with others in real time and real life. Sean Parker who was with Facebook says this about the companies intentions:
“It literally changes your relationship with society, with each other. It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it’s doing to our children’s brains,” he said.
He explained that when Facebook was being developed the objective was: “How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?” It was this mindset that led to the creation of features such as the “like” button that would give users “a little dopamine hit” to encourage them to upload more content.1
Social media and technology are not our friends. It is not helping us live our best lives. I know this is not the popular thing to say, but if you can not disconnect from technology long enough to connect with the Creator, then that is a probably.
No shame intended.
No stones being thrown.
But we need to face the hard truth: If technology were a drug, alcohol, or even work, most of us would or should be classified as an addict and need to be in rehab.
If we turn our backs on technology for just enough time to participate in the practices, I believe the tentacles that have us wrapped up tight and pulling us to the depths will start to become apparent. We will see technology for what it is. There books, articles and such that are at the fingertips that show us the danger of technology, I am not going to regurgitate all of that work.
What I have found as I have been more aware of this pull towards the industrial mechanical values of always being connected, is that when I step away from it, I find more freedom. I like the freedom. And thus I am more aware of what it feels like to live free and what it feels like to be enslaved.
All I am asking is this: When you participate in there, get some distance from technology and see what happens. Think about this - when you have fasted from your phone or social media, you don’t say this: my life is better with my phone. I hear over and over, especially after Lent - my life was better when I was not connected to my phone and all my social media feeds.
Unplugging. Disconnecting. Stepping away. Not serving the idol of technology is imperative if we are going to walk in the Best of Ways. Start where you are. Set aside technology in small ways. Participate in the practices. This little space you create will create larger spaces. These larger spaces will feel good, right and whole. These are the grassy meadows the Psalmist talks about in Psalm 23.
1 The Lord is my shepherd.
I lack nothing.
2 He lets me rest in grassy meadows;
he leads me to restful waters;
3 he keeps me alive.
He guides me in proper paths
for the sake of his good name
Every section will end with this quote: Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
- Edward Abbey[ I would like to make this a special looking section each time that has this quote and really sticks out.]
And questions that will attempt to move you from concepts and theories and knowledge to actual practice. We need to move from the Best of ideas to the Best of Ways. This format during this section will help you in that regard. I know all authors say, read the questions and reflect. I am saying, read the questions, do the activities and start living differently. Action, not sentiment. If it takes you a while to get through the last few chapters of this book, so be it. There are no gold stars for finishing the book, yet there is fruit to be seen if we hear and embrace the word(s)/seeds of God.
Questions/activities that move you from sentiment to action in regards to technology:
Sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul.
- Edward Abbey
[ I would like to make this a special looking section each time that has this quote and really sticks out.]1. What is the first step you need to take in stepping away and disconnecting from technology? Write it down and tell someone you have done it.
2. Make a list of all the ways you see technology being used around you on a day to day basis. After observing this, what changes do you want to make to your own life, your family’s life, your organization's life?
3. Imagine that technology is an idol, how would you go about tearing down the high places where idol worship is happening in your life. Jonah 2:8 says, “Those that cling to worthless idols, forfeit the grace that could be theirs.” Make a plan today to undermine and tear down your ‘worship’ of the idol of technology.
 Common English Bible. (2011). (Ps 23:1–3). Nashville, TN: Common English Bible.
1 [ https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/nov/09/facebook-sean-parker-vulnerability-brain-psychology?CMP=share_btn_link]